After a long, hard season with many ups and downs, the Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team got the results they have worked towards since the beginning of the season.
The Blues entered the playoffs versus their cross-town rivals the York Yeomen during reading week. With a boisterous home crowd behind them, U of T beat up York, taking the match 3-0, with set scores of 26-24, 25-20 and 25-22. York looked unprepared, and made many mistakes, which the Blues took advantage of.
With a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series, the Blues headed to York to face the Yeomen in a Valentine’s Day match-up. U of T didn’t respond to York’s intensity, and were defeated, three games to one.
Instead of an easy ride in the semi-finals, the Blues found themselves in a do-or-die situation, with a third and deciding game to be played on home turf. The Blues were not about to let the season slip away, and regained their form in the deciding match.
York proved to be a tough opponent, but were no match for U of T’s depth and experience. With dazzling digs and thundering spikes, the Blues easily took the crucial third game 3-0, with set scores of 26-15, 25-22 and 25-19.
After disposing of York, the Blues headed for the OUA championship to face the Guelph Gryphons. Guelph had a psychological advantage over the Blues, having beaten them earlier in the season.
Game one of the series took place at U of T on Feb. 19. The Blues came out smoking and looked unstoppable. Guelph blundered and U of T took immediate control. The Blues’ power just overwhelmed Guelph and they won the first game 3-0.
U of T knew they were just one win away from capturing the OUA men’s volleyball crown, but also knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The Blues travelled to Guelph for game two of the series on Feb. 21.
The Guelph crowd was extremely hostile but the Blues’ confidence was there. U of T took a quick lead in the match to go up 2-0, but Guelph did not give up.
In the third set, the Gryphons came from behind to beat the Blues, and then proceeded to take the next set.
The Blues didn’t want to play a third game, and looked to end it in the fifth set. The frame epitomized their spectacular season, as the team played great defence, coming up with repeated blocks and digs. The Blues neutralized the Guelph hitters, making it impossible for the Gryphons to gain an upper hand in the match.
U of T won the final set and the game 3-2. The Blues got an outstanding game from all-stars Marc Arseneau and Josh Binstock. Arseneau had just come back from a thumb injury he sustained a couple of weeks ago. The pair provided the team with spike after spike and veteran leadership.
The MVP of the OUA playoffs was Blues setter Chris Pigott, the fifth-year senior who called some phenomenal games throughout the playoffs.
“It was a total team effort from the beginning of the season. We were on a mission and there was no way we were going to have any type of letdown,” said Myroslav Chwaluk of the Blues. He also praised teammate Peter McKenzie. “His passing was so unbelievably smooth and it resulted in extremely powerful spikes that [Guelph] had no chance of stopping.”
The men’s volleyball team captured their unprecedented 13th OUA championship, assuring themselves a trip to the CIS nationals in Alberta that take place Feb. 27 to March 1.